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This is a scenario that really happened here in Payson, Arizona several months ago. I don't have an update on what has happened to date but I will post it if I read any more about it.

You are hiking on a trail through the timber in a mountainous area. Although it is "in the boonies" civilization is close. You have a CCW permit and are armed with a pistol in a fanny pack you are wearing. As you are hiking, two large dogs (on of them a Chow) come running around the bend, coming straight at you. You are convinced by the mannerisms of the dogs that you ARE in danger. Knowing the damage a large dog can do, much less two of them, you draw your weapon from your fanny pack and shoot the larger of the two, the Chow. He hits the ground immediately; the other dog turns abruptly and runs in the direction from which he came. At this point, a wild, unkempt and enraged man comes running around the bend of the trail straight for you. He is screaming that he is "going to kill you". You draw (or just raise) your weapon and fire one shot, killing the man.

Were you justified? What did you do right? What did you do wrong?

Since I am going to be out of town for a couple of days and can't follow up, I will tell you that it turned out that the man killed was a "transient" who walked dogs, as an oddjob, for the local animal shelter.
 

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silvercorvette said:
Did you yell stop first? Did he have any weapon, rock, stick Ect?
Good question, I think I remember hearing the guy had a "stick" in his hand. They didn't say whether he ordered the guy to stop, not sure whether an assumption that he did would be correct.

The point that sticks in my head is that this guy obviously knows you have a weapon since you just shot the dog and had to be seriously out of control to charge an armed man.
 

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It all depends on distance, would he have had enough time to yell stop and get off the shot with out putting himself in danger. It is probably a good shoot regardless of if he yelled stop or not. You don’t have to let the guy hit you over the head before you shoot him. If you are afraid your life is in danger you have the right to protect your self.
 

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This is the shooting Bumper

Tempers flare at trail-shooting hearing

By LARRY HENDRICKS
Sun Staff Reporter
01/26/2005


The courtroom battle took up where the legal motions left off.
With voices rising and tempers flaring, both sides in the Harold Fish trail-shooting case had to be admonished by the judge Tuesday to tone down the rhetoric.

Fish has been indicted for second-degree murder in the May 11 shooting of Grant Kuenzli, who allegedly charged at Fish after Fish fired a warning shot to scatter Kuenzli's charging dogs.

Fish has pleaded innocent, claiming self-defense. The defense wants the case sent back to the grand jury, alleging prosecutorial "misconduct."

Defense attorney A. Melvin McDonald called it the "most blatant abuse of the grand jury process ever" in his 35 years as an attorney.

Deputy Coconino County attorney Michael Lessler took issue with the characterization, at one point describing a McDonald tactic as "unethical."

That brought a reminder to both parties from Superior Court Judge Mark Moran to be "more respectful" of each other and the court.

'ERROR AFTER ERROR'

McDonald opened the hearing by contending the grand jury proceeding was filled with "error after error."

Even so, he said, the grand jury


only narrowly indicted his client.

"Their one-sided presentation, they were not able to sway one-third of the jurors," McDonald said.

Among the issues McDonald cited were: The prosecution had not told the grand jury that Kuenzli was armed with a screwdriver; The prosecution focused on Fish's martial arts training 25 years earlier as an option to shooting, which wasn't; The prosecution didn't correctly instruct jurors on self-defense training; The prosecution glossed over the aggressiveness of the dogs involved; The prosecution led jurors to believe that Kuenzli did not approach Fish at full bore, but at a walk or a lope.

Each issue alone clearly would require sending the case back to a grand jury, McDonald said.

"Let's give them the truth and what really happened," McDonald said.

POINT-BY-POINT REBUTTAL

Lessler, intent on wanting "to tone down emotion and tune up the logic," jabbed at each issue, point by point.


The screwdriver was not in Kuenzli's hand; Fish could have told jurors that his martial arts training was no longer an option; The laws governing self-defense were covered, not what police and weapons training courses teach; All relevant information about the dogs was disclosed; The tracker who quantified Kuenzli's speed to Fish clarified his initial estimate.

Lessler said that the purpose of a grand jury is not to determine innocence or guilt, but to determine if there is probable cause that a crime was committed and that the accused might have committed the crime.

Even so, Fish was given every opportunity to express his version of the case. He was allowed to testify at the proceeding, which is uncommon.

The problem was not with the grand jury proceedings, Lessler said. The problem was with answers Fish gave to some critical questions.

The likely clincher for the grand jurors, Lessler said, was that when Fish was asked why he did not wound Kuenzli, Fish responded that wounding a person would open him up to a lawsuit.

Therefore, Lessler said, Fish killed Kuenzli to avoid a lawsuit.

Fish stretched his credibility, Lessler added. He stonewalled on his knowledge of guns and gave an "incredulous" answer as to why he didn't shoot to wound.

"He wants a 'do over," Lessler said. "And he doesn't get one ... In short, this was more than fair.

MENTAL RECORDS SOUGHT

Attorneys also argued a motion filed by McDonald seeking mental health records of Kuenzli in order to make a psychological profile of the man to determine why Kuenzli did what he did on the day of the murder. Several accounts of past contacts Kuenzli had with people appeared to demonstrate bizarre and confrontational behavior, especially when it concerned his dog, Maggie.

Lessler argued several points as to why the records are irrelevant at trial and need not be turned over to the defense. Foremost was that the law makes evidence about a victim's prior bad acts irrelevant if the defendant and the victim never met prior. Fish had never meet Kuenzli prior to the meeting at the trailhead.

Fish, a 57-year-old retired schoolteacher, was present, along with his wife and a few supporters.

After arguments were presented, Judge Mark Moran decided to take some time before rendering a decision. He has up to 60 days to do so by law.

McDonald said after the hearing that, depending on how the judge ruled, the defense was ready to proceed. They either go back to the grand jury if the county attorney decides to submit the case again, or they head on track for trial, for which they've been preparing.

"We have a battle plan, but the battle plan is secret," McDonald said.

Lessler said that he would not speculate on what the judge's ruling would be or what would happen next.


Larry Hendricks can be reached at [email protected] or 556-2262.
 

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Sounds like a justified shoot. Seems The shooter needs a better lawyer to coach him on answering the questions in a better way.
 

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Fish responded that wounding a person would open him up to a lawsuit.
Rule #1...SHUT UP!!!! Make no statement without presence of legal council, a miss statement like this is going to cost this guy dearly, even if acquitted the legal bills will be massive. Say "I am too distraught to think clearly at this time and I want my lawyer".

Rule #2...You neither shoot to kill nor wound; you shoot to stop the attack and defend yourself, and you shot until the attack ceased.
 

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F350 said:
Rule #1...SHUT UP!!!! Make no statement without presence of legal council, a miss statement like this is going to cost this guy dearly, even if acquitted the legal bills will be massive. Say "I am too distraught to think clearly at this time and I want my lawyer".

Rule #2...You neither shoot to kill nor wound; you shoot to stop the attack and defend yourself, and you shot until the attack ceased.
Actually that was Fish's grand jury testimony. So his lawyer did a poor job getting him ready for it.

-Scott-
 

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I completely agree to rules # 1 & 2 except that I would add to rule #1 to keep muttering the phrase "I WAS IN FEAR FOR MY LIFE" over and over and over again....
 

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ExSoldier762 said:
I completely agree to rules # 1 & 2 except that I would add to rule #1 to keep muttering the phrase "I WAS IN FEAR FOR MY LIFE" over and over and over again....
Don't put on a crazy act unless you are a real good actor it will show. Robert Black is a profesional actor and his act didn'y go over wrll. Be real if you put on an act the police will know and you will look worst for acting like you are ib shock.
 

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There was no information about Harold Fish and his knowledge about dogs or if he feared them. I believe that would have an effect on his response seeing a dog coming at him. If every dog was feared in his eyes then yes he would shoot first to stop the animal. A person running at you after killing his pet in my mind is a normal show of emotion. I didn't catch the point if Fish showed his gun or not to stop or slow the guy down. I don't know the law of course but shooting every guy that runs at you don't seem like the right thing to do each time! I sure would not run at a guy with a gun and yes I would be very frightened at someone running right at me for any reason. Once the decision is made by you that your life is in danger there is no shoot to wound, it is shoot to stop the threat on your life.
 

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You misunderstand me. I'm not saying to put on a crazy act. There is only ONE reason for a valid self defense shooting: YOU or ANOTHER you have standing to protect are in imminent FEAR FOR YOUR LIFE. Period. It's a sort of defensive "mantra" if you will. All I'm saying is ask for counsel and say nothing other than to stay ON MESSAGE. You fired because you were in fear for your life. Don't act crazy (even if you are) don't say or do anything. In this situation, neither the cops or the prosecutors are your friends. They are adversaries. Depending on the jurisdiction they may well be looking for info (even incidental info) that will aid them in building a case against you as standard procedure.
 

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The reason I said that was that every time the topic comes up on forums a few people talk about going into some kind of big act and going over the top with a big act. In my opinion if someone sits and mutters
(QUOTE) "I WAS IN FEAR FOR MY LIFE" over and over and over again....” that will lead the cops to be a bit skeptical. If you are involved in a Good shoot the evidence will speak for itself but if you try to embellish or go over the top with your emotions the cops may begin to wonder why you are over reacting. If you ever do shoot someone you probably be so traumatized you won’t have to put on any kind of an act. Just be real because any attempt to over react will be seen through .I am just trying to point out not to over dramatize. It is great to stay on point and say you were in fear for your life. But (not accusing you in particular) mumbling over and over he was going to kill me while rocking back and forth in the chair with a spaced out look on your face in an attempt to appear to be in shock isn’t a good idea. Also try not to antagonize the police by saying “I ain’t saying nothing without a lawyer”. It is much better to be polite and courteous and say I am very upset right now I almost had someone kill me, may I please talk to a lawyer”. Once you say the magic words I want to have a lawyer the police can no longer talk to you. Anything that they ask you can not be used in court.
 

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Well would i have shot or not ..Since im a highly untrained at hand to hand with bad back repair man Most likely i would have... Why most likely well kind of ya would of had to be there thing ..


Now as to what Fish said this guy must be a retard i didnt wound him so i couldnt be sued... Almost sounds like a case for murder 1 ... You could argue he had premedated to kill someone with that statment..

As to wh didnt you wound the guy i shoot to stop the threat
 

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~~~~~~~~~if you try to embellish or go over the top with your emotions the cops may begin to wonder why you are over reacting. If you ever do shoot someone you probably be so traumatized you won’t have to put on any kind of an act.~~~~~~~~~

Which is it? Either you're falsely overreacting or you're a traumatized pup. I used to carry a badge for a living, and I know how both cops and prosecutors (in my area) think. I agree to be courteous and polite and not nasty, but remember they're not on your side (at least around here).

I personally think that the only way I'm going to be in shock is if an innocent bystander or a family member of mine is hurt in the exchange. At least immediately post incident. Later on I'll get the shakes. At least that's my track record in high stress, emergency or life threatening situations.
 

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Here, the dogs would be considered weapons themselves most likely - and this wouldn't clear a grand jury let alone the DA.
 

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ExSoldier762 said:
~~~~~~~~~if you try to embellish or go over the top with your emotions the cops may begin to wonder why you are over reacting. If you ever do shoot someone you probably be so traumatized you won’t have to put on any kind of an act.~~~~~~~~~

Which is it? Either you're falsely overreacting or you're a traumatized pup. I used to carry a badge for a living, and I know how both cops and prosecutors (in my area) think. I agree to be courteous and polite and not nasty, but remember they're not on your side (at least around here).

I personally think that the only way I'm going to be in shock is if an innocent bystander or a family member of mine is hurt in the exchange. At least immediately post incident. Later on I'll get the shakes. At least that's my track record in high stress, emergency or life threatening situations.

I think I made the distinction between over dramatizing and showing genuine emotion. You don’t have to be a trained police officer to tell the difference. If my point isn’t getting through to you then it is either a case of you having a problem with reading comprehension and are unable to grasp the concept I am trying to get across. Or the problem may be my inadequacy with a inability to effectively communicate my thoughts in writing. Wherever the fault lies I can not think of any way to get my point across more effectively. There is no point in trying to keep on repeating myself so I will just give up an hope that others that read my post were able to understand the point I was trying to get across and were able it in some small way benefit from the advice.
 

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Go to the police station and point at the holding cell and ask the officer on duty what they're in there for. A good cop will tell you they're in there because they didn't know when to shut up.

If you are involved in a shooting, tell the police simply that
1) You feared for your safety and acted in self defence
2) You would like to speak to a lawyer before answering any more questions
3) STFU.

no melodrama needed the police report will read: "Suspect states 'He was trying to kill me and i had to defend myself'"

The police will not make judgements on their reports as it will open them up to litigation. You will never see a report that reads: "Suspect states 'He was trying to kill me and i had to defend myself,' but he didn't sound all that convincing to me." Police can only report their observations, not their opinions.

When i write an ambulance report, i can't write "Patient is obviously faking injury for insurance money" I can report "Arrived on scene to see pt doing back flips in the parking lot. Upon approach the pt complained of 'crippling' back and neck pain after slipping on sidewalk and stated 'oh, the agony, the pain! Woe is me!'"

See what i'm getting at?
 

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Very interesting scenario and a very nasty situation. As always I do not know all of the facts, but here are some thoughts that come to mind. I would not have shot the dog, but that is just me. I have been in similar situations and have not had too shoot. On the other hand I have worked with a lot of dogs including bite work training and I am not afraid of dogs. I know that a dog can do a lot of damage and I do not want to minimize that fact. Also Mr. Fish could very well have been in deep fear for his life and I am not in a position to judge that, I can only state what I would have done. Whenever I walk in the woods (or almost anywhere) I carry pepper spray which would also be an option. I have also chased off some pretty nasty looking critters with a rock to the ribs. Carrying a gun is a huge responsibility. What if he had missed and hit a hiker or kids playing somewhere nearby? Hard to know what is beyond in the heat of the moment. The likelihood of coming accross dogs while out walking is fairly high and if one is going to carry a gun then thought needs to be given on how to handle a dog situation. Additionally people can be very emotional about their dogs, what if the other guy had been carrying also? Only Mr. Fish knows his mental state at the time, he may have been terrified, but I bet he wishes that he had not shot the dog. If he had not shot the dog then the other guy probably would not have come running at him. My main thought here goes back to the responsibility of carrying a gun. It is not possible to foresee all or even most of the things that can happen out there, but it is possible to foresee a few things. I walk on some conservation land several days a week. I have seen lots of dogs over the years. I figure that sooner or later I will run into one that is not friendly and I have. So since I began carrying a gun I also carry a stout walking stick, pepper spray, a knife and a flashlight and I keep my eyes open when I am in the woods (good advice for a lot of places). My very last ditch recourse would be drawing my gun. Other people walk out there, kids play paintball, ride horses and there are houses not that very far away. How about if I shoot and miss, the dog bites me (or not), I survive, but my bullet travels for a half mile and kills a little kid when a blast of pepper spray may have sufficed. Someone else can play out the scenario of the crazed beast ripping my throat out, but drawing my gun would still be my last resort.
 

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Let me share...

Mr. Fish is an older retired gentleman. He has been slowly hiking his way across much of the AZ forests as a goal in retirement. Its a great way to see AZ and get some physical exercise. He was on a 9 mile hike...think about that one...65 ish, 9 mile hike, middle of nowhere, daypack, still not yet back at the trailhead.

That was the setting....a little background.

One of Mr. Fishs' daughters had been mauled by a dog a few months prior to this incident. Mr. Fish has never been arrested or convicted of any crimes in his past. Mr. Fish is just like you and I in our quest for self and family protection..and could be one of us here on this board.

The situation:...he was just about finished, when over the last hill came 3 barking dogs came running towards him...at this point he drew his 10mm and fired a shot into the ground in FRONT of the dogs as a warning to get them to disperse. It worked.the dogs stopped. He did not shoot the animal.it was only a warning and none of them were injured. At that very moment the man that owned one of the dogs and was walking the others for the local animal shelter (they werent his, and one had a past violent behaviour towards a local LEO) came running over the hill shouting at Mr. Fish. He was running at him while screaming he was gonna kill him for shooting his dogs. The lead Detective on the investigation proved the story related by Mr. fish at the scene with the single warning shot fired for the dogs, and the stride/footstep calculations indicating that the man was indeed running not walking. this man continued to run at Mr. Fish who is still holding a handgun in his hands and has jsut fired a warning shot..this lends to this mans mental attitude of approaching an armed man enraged and threatening him. Mr. Fish warned him to stop and he didnt...he fired on him and struck the man COM, according to the report filed by the Det. the 1st round struck him at around 8 feet, then 5 and the last shot struck him at just about a foot away.

Mr. Fish then ran for help to the road at the trailhead getting someones cell phone to call 911. When the paramedics arrived he had passed away.

Now, Mr. Fish did not know it at the time, but this man had a previous record of assault and he was not working due to mental issues and was living out of his car in the woods which is illegal. Thisman had previosuly got into an altercation with a semi-truck driver and had a TRO against him from his ex-wife. I wasnt there, but from the Det. investigation, and Mr. Fishs account, I believe he was justified as it turned out. I believe that the only reason that this went to GJ was out of political motivation by the county attorney. (Coconino county) I know we look at these scenarios all the time...and all I can say is I would have fired on this guy if he had come at me and didnt stop after me yelling at him to stop, and him seeing my gun in hand....he was younger than me and in better physical shape...he had 3 dogs with him that were already showing signs of aggression at me..and I dont know if he has them trained or not. think about yourself in htat condition, out in the forest...I think he did what he had to do.
 
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